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Physics graduate prospects

  1. Sep 25, 2013 #1
    Hi,

    I am currently in high school and I was planing on studying physics. After reading some threads and online articles, I have concluded that the opportunity to research is limited and the most graduates end up working with finance and insurance.

    If I had graduated with a phd in physics, what sort of income would I be looking at from the financial companies?

    If I it is a lot, then I don't see what the fuss is, you can simply work in finance for a few years and earn a wad of cash and spend the rest of your life researching and teaching physics as a 'hobby'.

    Any other information regarding physics jobs would be greatly appreciated.


    Thanks a bunch,


    Ashmar
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2013 #2
    Finance and insurance? That's interesting and somewhat unexpected.

    My older brother has a bachelor's degree in Physics and he works as a Software developer. He makes good money and loves his job.

    Research opportunities are probably limited, but with a phD in Physics you could definitely work in the Physics field. With a phD you could become a professor of physics at a university. I'm certain that a lot more research opportunites open up when you wield a phD.

    Study physics, it's a beautiful science.
     
  4. Sep 25, 2013 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    If you're in high school, a PhD is 10-15 years down the road. We can tell you how things are today, but unfortunately what you really need is a crystal ball. Things will surely be different then.
     
  5. Sep 25, 2013 #4
    Its not that simple especially by the time you graduate from a phD. Specialized programs to fill those positions are being made and outputting graduates and this is only likely to increase.

    Do engineering- materials science, mecheng/ee.
     
  6. Sep 25, 2013 #5
    I think this transition is more difficult to make than you think it is, and I'm not convinced most people who make it make as much money as you think they do.
     
  7. Oct 13, 2013 #6
    Well, I'm in the final year of my physics PhD and regret nothing. I am looking at alternatives to a probable dead-end postdoc position after I graduate. I never got into the subject with any career in mind, I just liked it and was good at it so it was the only one for me. At 25 I still don't know what I'll end up doing, but I wouldn't trade what I've learned for anything. At this point I feel well enough equipped to learn about whatever physics I feel like in my spare time, so if I can't stick around in academia then it's not such a big deal. If you dig the subject then I say go for it. It's surely still one of the best degrees to have even if you don't stay in academia. All I have ever heard since I was 15 was that physics qualifications are valued by employers so if I struggle to find good work after all this, I can only assume I would have struggled had I studied something else. I'm not losing any sleep over that though, there'll be something out there.
     
  8. Oct 13, 2013 #7

    Student100

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    I think EE has their own glut problem going on right now.

    Do whatever you like, you shouldn't limit yourself based on expected outcomes.
     
  9. Oct 14, 2013 #8
    IMO, that is ridiculous and bad advice. Anybody who claims to do otherwise is fooling themselves. Of course we make decisions based on probable and expected outcomes, that's a key component of decision making.
     
  10. Oct 14, 2013 #9

    HayleySarg

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    I think, ModusPwnd, that the advice is sound assuming the OP has a specific outlook. An outlook and projected idea of life that maybe isn't expected at his or her age.

    Some of us are not too concerned with gaining assets like houses and cars, aside from the bare basics. No interest in a family, though if it falls together, so be it. When you have this sort of outlook, the expected outcome doesn't need to fit the desired lifestyle.

    That being said, you should be aware of the outcomes. They should be a part of your decision making.

    I'd be a fool if I thought I'd get a stellar job as a prof at a big school. The truth is, there are gobs of talented people out there. And even if you work just as hard or harder than everyone else, there is a guarantee for a job in academia like previous generations saw. No, you need to be dynamic.

    If you want to pursue physics, I think that's a great thing. But be dynamic. Dont' pigeon-hole yourself into one narrow field of study without any regards to practical applications or job skills. Take the time to make yourself well rounded, so when the fecal matter hits the fan you have a plan. No matter how irrelevent money seems to you now, trust me, you don't ever want to have to decide between keeping your heat on and eating.

    Thankfully, if you take the time to make yourself well rounded -- learning programming, management skills, internships and/or research during undergrad -- you'll be setting yourself up fro whatever the future brings.

    Too many follow some linear path that "should work out okay", without any regard to what could go wrong.
     
  11. Oct 14, 2013 #10
    Good, we all agree.
     
  12. Oct 15, 2013 #11

    Student100

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    The OP is in high school, I don't see how any expected outcome could be realistic at this time; as such, it is more ridiculous to even speculate the many turns life could take for them on their way to a PhD.

    Think of Hubble, did he know that he would volunteer for the Army after completing his degree when World War One broke out? I don't believe so.

    The OP has already begun to limit himself by suggesting he will probably end up in finance and not science, based on expectations that could be very discouraging and probably not accurate in 2025. There is an interest in studying physics expressed by them, and a physics PhD is a pretty good way to go about that. The only expected outcome should be “Hey I’ll learn a bunch about physics.”

    There are a plethora of people who pursue otherwise unemployable degrees, and I’m sure most do not end up homeless with no hope for a future. If you want to study physics, study physics, do your best and whatever happens in the future with your life, happens.
     
  13. Oct 15, 2013 #12
    I never said anything about finance or science as a career... I simply said that we do make decisions based on probable outcomes. To think otherwise is silly. I think you are presuming beyond what I said. Otherwise, for the original poster career prospects are clearly relevant and telling him not to care or that he shouldnt care is rude. Maybe you dont care about getting a career, but the original poster does. Thinking about career opportunities before college is a perfectly ok thing to do. Daydreaming and chatting about a possible future is also a perfectly ok thing to do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  14. Oct 15, 2013 #13

    atyy

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    If I understand ModusPwnd correctly, the point being made is very sensible. The point is not: don't do what you love. But do what you love, but make sure practical things are taken care of too - like can you be employed? Musicians do what they love, but they all know that only a lucky few earn enough on music alone.
     
  15. Oct 15, 2013 #14

    Student100

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    No you didn't, but if you read the OPs question again you'll see that he did. No doubt from researching other threads and other informaton that suggest working I'm science is near impossibility. Its alot less reasonable to have any probable employment opportunity with your phd when you're in highschool, than say, when you're actually in a graduate program and the future job markets are a lot closer.
     
  16. Oct 15, 2013 #15
    This is exactly why you ask someone who has a phD and been a part of the RECENT job market with a phD to make an approximation of a possible outcome. One makes approximations in physics all the time. That is why people are giving information about the current job market for physics phD's.
     
  17. Oct 15, 2013 #16

    Student100

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    But that's my point; the job market will be variably different now than it is ten years from now. The OP is looking for advice, and the best advice in my opinion to give them is to study physics (which is what they want to do), and not focus so much on what they’re going to do years from now when they earn their PhD. They can worry about that in grad school if they make it that far.

    Or we can simply tell them "don't do physics, you'll never do science", or "finance opportunities are drying up", or “study EE its way more employable.”

    These are assumptions based on today’s job market, and the landscape will change in ten years.

    We can agree to disagree on the most appropriate advice for the context of the situation, I can see Mod’s point as well as other peoples. I just don’t feel that in the context of the question that it is of much benefit to the OP.
     
  18. Oct 15, 2013 #17
    What about the advice "study engineering, its close to physics with better career outlooks?"

    If they opt out of grad school, wouldn't engineering open a lot more "physicsy" jobs than a physics degree will? Why shouldn't they be aware of this?
     
  19. Oct 15, 2013 #18
    Exactly you cant predict the exact job market but you can predict that engineering departments will still do applied physics type work and engineering degrees will play better in the job market.
     
  20. Oct 15, 2013 #19

    Student100

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    Because ParticleGrl, it had seemed to me after reading his post that he has heart set on physics; not just that, but a PhD.

    It's almost like asking the OP to concede defeat before they even try to do what they want to do. He's read information, or so it's stated, and I'm sure he is aware that engineering is far more employable with a B.S right out of college. He even states that if he can’t do physics “Can I just make a bunch of money and study and research as a hobby.” I’m sure that he has considered the more employable alternatives.

    But again, it's just the way I read the question.
     
  21. Oct 15, 2013 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    Let me remind everyone that this OP is 10-15 years away from a PhD. A lot of the replies seem to be focusing on a much shorter time scale.
     
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